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J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Jul;49(7):3178-86.

In vitro metabolism of plant lignans: new precursors of mammalian lignans enterolactone and enterodiol.

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Folkhälsan Research Center and Department of Clinical Chemistry, P.O. Box 60, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.


The metabolism of the plant lignans matairesinol, secoisolariciresinol, pinoresinol, syringaresinol, arctigenin, 7-hydroxymatairesinol, isolariciresinol, and lariciresinol by human fecal microflora was investigated to study their properties as mammalian lignan precursors. The quantitative analyses of lignan precursors and the mammalian lignans enterolactone and enterodiol were performed by HPLC with coulometric electrode array detector. The metabolic products, including mammalian lignans, were characterized as trimethylsilyl derivatives by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Matairesinol, secoisolariciresinol, lariciresinol, and pinoresinol were converted to mammalian lignans only. Several metabolites were isolated and tentatively identified as for syringaresinol and arctigenin in addition to the mammalian lignans. Metabolites of 7-hydroxymatairesinol were characterized as enterolactone and 7-hydroxyenterolactone by comparison with authentic reference compounds. A metabolic scheme describing the conversion of the most abundant new mammalian lignan precursors, pinoresinol and lariciresinol, is presented.

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